It’s said the early bird gets the worm, and Sleuth was delighted to get an unexpected private with the highly skilled and alignment savvy Jena Maenius on a recent Wednesday morning...though it’s very doubtful this will last for long. Kula Yoga recently opened up a third space in Soho, and if their other Tribeca and Williamsburg branches are any indication, classes will soon be packed, so—hot tip—get it while you can, yogi(ni)s.
“What do you think of Kula Yoga Soho?” Jena Maenius asked me as I stepped in for class. I found the room to be spacious, bright and airy, I told her (more than the Tribeca branch, in my opinion). In addition to the yoga studio, the new outpost has four bodywork spaces and a new class is offered once a day called “The Rub” in which students learn self-massage techniques with a range of massage equipment.
After introducing herself and asking if I was dealing with any injuries, Jena had me lie on my back and take a happy baby. While in the pose, she asked me to flex through my heels and reach through my big toes, while having me note how those subtle changes could make my thighs role inwards even more. She also mentioned that we’d be exploring more of those subtleties of changing the position of the feet throughout the class. Light wordless music tinkled in the background as Jena spoke.
Placing two blocks at the top of the mat on the highest height, Jena asked me to stand with my legs in a triangle position with my right leg forward. I was to grab a block with my left hand and twist my torso to the left then grab my back left thigh with my right hand. Instantly, I could feel my inner groin going to work. “This has similar effects as skandasana but without putting pressure on the knees,” Jena said. It was one of my favorite poses of my morning, helping to also open the chest and ribs.
Jena then walked me through sun salutations offering hands-on adjustments and alignment tips, often prompting me to look at the alignment of my feet. Moving onto a series of standing poses, Jena offered warrior one, reverse warrior, reverse triangle, extended side angle, half moon, warrior three (with blocks), standing split, chair and chair twist, parsvottanasana, prasarita padottanasana, and tree.
As the class wound down, Jena had me hold a lizard pose keeping my foot on the mat so there would be no slipping accidents. Noticing that I was desperate to open up my hip, Jena asked me to hold a little longer, as the release I was looking for was on its way. Sure enough, she was right.
Shortly after lizard, we went back to a pose from the beginning of practice, which doesn’t have an official name, but is a little like half triangle, half parivrtta janu sirsasana. Moving onto floor poses, Jena had me take a pigeon followed by the full version of parivrtta janu sirsasana, opening my chest to the sky like opening a window to let in the light and a fresh summer breeze.
Once again, returning to our starting point, Jena had me hold happy baby before settling me into savasana. We chanted “Om” to close class as sun poured in through the windows. It was a bright start to the day, from a new bright spot in Soho.
—Marie Carter for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $20 with $2 mat rental. New students can try 3 classes for $30.